Color Outside the Lines

color outside the lines

I have never been good at fitting molds.

It’s not that I am a blatant non-conformist, or a protester against the establishment. But in my own quiet, not-trying-to-attract-attention kind of way, I have always fought against the forces of conformity.

  • I don’t follow recipes.
  • I feel stifled following a published Bible study workbook or someone else’s discussion questions.
  • I have a contrary habit of refusing to read the books everyone else is reading or watch the shows everyone else is watching.
  • I have a degree in engineering, yet I spend my days writing stories and dramas. (My technical friends cringe at the thought of writing, my writing friends cringe at the thought of math. I love both.)

I have many times been told that others find me difficult to read. They apparently cannot figure out what makes me tick.

I am glad, because it means—I hope—that I am marching to my own drum instead of following the predictable rhythms of the herd.

Why define your thisness with everyone else’s thatness? Erika Morrison

Some of my anti-conformity bent comes from the aspect of my personality that Gretchen Rubin terms a Questioner—I hold fast to my inner convictions but I question all external expectations. I do not conform to them unless I see a good reason to do so.

In high school, for example, I was not part of the popular crowd. I had moments of bitterness over this, but mostly I was disinterested in playing their games and following their rules. And despite the social risks, I enjoyed hanging out with kids the others labeled eccentric. I guess I instinctively approved of their spunk, and perhaps even wished I had the courage to be as uninhibited in my uniqueness as they were in theirs.

Embracing my weirdness

I confess I do not always fight the battle against conformity with wholehearted devotion. Sometimes it is easier to blend in, to follow the rules and act the parts.

Walking to the beat of your own drum takes persistent effort. Bucking the system involves risk. Living a life of free-spirited uniqueness draws attention—and attention is something I normally try to avoid.

Yet whenever I run across a book or article that encourages us to fight conformity and embrace our true selves, I find that it resonates deep in my heart. I often make quips about how normal is boring. My inner self believes that is true—and yet how often do I shrink back from my not-normalness because the little voice in my head reminds me other people might be looking? They might think I’m weird. (News flash: Not-normal is by definition weird. Embrace it and get on with life.)

Does your soul need a Bastille Day?

Do you feel imprisoned by society’s molds? Shackled by other people’s expectations? So buried under political correctness and the air-brushed ideals presented in advertising that you are unsure what your true self even looks like?

Spend some time alone, asking God:

  • What molds, systems, traditions, and rules am I succumbing to that are twisting and shackling the true, God-designed, unique me?
  • How do I begin to upend them and escape, heading instead along the journey to becoming my authentic, avant garde self?

Want more inspiration discovering your true self? I highly recommend Bandersnatch: An Invitation to Explore Your Unconventional Soul by Erika Morrison. I echo her advice to all of us:

The kingdom isn’t whole until you are your one and only and always-avant-garde you.


Color Outside the Lines — 2 Comments

  1. Wow, Lisa . . . .Thanks for your blog. The authors I find intriguing, my taste in foods, the conversations I most enjoy, the way my love of music as an almost constant companion in my day . . . .they often make me feel . . .what? estranged from the circle of buddies I have here at Frederick. Thank God for the few Christian souls whom God has chosen to walk the path with me . . . .makes life so enriched. My motto is “squeeze the juice out of every day” . . . . look for God in all directions, at every turn. Many opportunities living in community as I am.

    • There is juice to be squeezed out of every day, isn’t there? So glad you aren’t afraid to find it, even in unusual places or “outside the lines.”